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Ciara & the Crows: Building A Crow

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, check out Ciara's papier-mâché crow!

It’s been weeks in the making…and my crow is finished. As I’ve taken myself on this journey of learning about crows in their entirety I’ve been thinking a lot about the size of birds. Over the past couple of years I’ve had the opportunities to participate in bird banding events and have gotten to hold Saw-Whet Owls, Blue Jays, various Sparrows, and Black-Capped Chickadees. But never anything as big as a crow.

Like many birders, my go-to birding app is Merlin Bird ID. In the app, step 3 of 5 in the bird ID process is to estimate the size of your sighting. One of these size options is “crow-sized”. However, I don’t think it was until I started this papier-mâché project did I really understand what “crow-sized” meant. The first materials I knew I wanted to use were wire hangers to create the wings (thank you to my coworker Sarah for her contribution!). Crows’ wingspans vary in length from 85-100 cm. Mine comes in at just about 35 cm. Their length ranges from 40-53 cm which puts my crow on the taller side hitting 51 cm when I measure from the tip of its tail to right before its bill. While on the taller side, my crow is also on the lighter side—the average crow weighs between 11.2 and 21.9 oz, but my crow’s weight could not be registered by my bathroom scale. Overall though, I’m pretty proud of my size accuracy. Knowing that I wouldn’t have access to holding a crow anytime soon, this is the closest I could get.

My crow is made of two wire hangers, half of an old Cran-Raspberry Juice bottle, a balloon, some granola bar boxes, painter’s tape, layers of newspaper & paper towels, Elmer’s glue & hot glue and wings cut out of scrap paper and painted over black. Click through the slideshow below to see my process.

Step 1: Look up the dimensions of a crow and shape my wire. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Step 2: Add wings and try to get everything to hold together. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Step three: Add plumage. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Step 4: Give your American Crow a head. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Step 5: Add final details and pose with your work. Photo: Audubon Vermont

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I’m watching the crows out my window now while I write about my papier-mâché creation and I have a much more accurate interpretation of their size. Maybe a little bit about their personality too. We’ve spent a lot of time together me and this crow. This crow has seen me at all times of the day and night, has seen me through spurts of creativity and impatience, and has listened to me shuffle through every song in my Spotify library about a million times.

I’m not done with the crows, by any means, but having this crow with me now feels like a milestone as I learn about them and has become a friend in the process. I would absolutely encourage making papier-mâché birds as a way to learn about their shapes and sizes (you all might have more patience with the project than I did). And for those of you working on your own crow crafts, here is my recommended listening for the journey:

Sam DeJarnett’s Podcast, “Always Be Birdin’”—American Crows are her “creature feature” on Episode 2!

Crow song by Haley Heynderickx & Max García Conover

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